President Bush avoids Carolyn Parrish?

President George W. Bush is on a State Visit to Canada tomorrow. But he’s not addressing Parliament. Why?

Tomorrow, President Bush will be coming to visit us in the Great White North. As is true Canadian style, he will be welcomed with open arms but with a measure of waryness, from both sides, that is perhaps unique in recent history.

President Bushs’ visit is of course very important to Canada and the Canadian government. When the leader of the free world, and more importantly, the leader of your most lucrative trading partner and lifeblood of the Canadian economy comes knocking, you tend to roll out the red carpet.

So why is President Bush not taking the invitation to speak in front of a joint session of Parliament? Is he afraid of what some of our democratically elected representatives might do or say during his speech? It didn’t stop Ronald Reagan.

When Vincente Fox visited a few weeks ago he addressed the House and was greeted by polite clapping and cheers. Why would the Presidents’ reception be any different?

No, instead of addressing Parliament and talking to every Canadian… President Bush seems to have picked Halifax as his public venue, and in the process picked the place where, perhaps, he is the most likely to get a favorable environment. He’s going to thank all those thousands of Maritimers who opened their hearts and homes to the many thousands of Americans stranded in Canada on Sept 11, 2001 and the thousands of Canadian soldiers who have said farewell from Halifax harbour as they left to fight in the Global war on Terrorism.

That’s very nice of him isn’t it? To thank us 3 years on? Indeed, I have heard that some of the friendships that started on that terrible day 3 years ago are still going strong today. But, it makes me wonder just how genuine Mr. Bushs’ thanks is compared to those new friends who spent days in the homes of Canadians in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Gander and many other cities and towns across this great land.

I have a feeling some of those families might say that a Thank You 3 years on is not really a thank you at all, but rather a distraction from what Canadians might be thinking now about this newly elected President. Canadians have long memories… We know that the gratitude of our American friends was true and real on Sept 11 when we welcomed them into our homes… yet their President somehow forgot to mention us in his speech to Congress after the 9/11 attacks. We also remember that, for the first time in recent history, an American President did not visit Canada in his first term as President.

So wait, hold on. Maybe I’m being hasty. Indeed President Bush is here, on a State Visit, only a few weeks after being elected. So perhaps this is an attempt to get things back to normal. To mend the fences as it were. I’m willing to accept that… and to welcome him.

But I say, Mr. President, if you are so confident in your new term please, address us as a nation. Stand up to those, like Carolyn Parrish, who may heckle you in the House of Commons. Be willing to hear their criticism because they are the manifestation of what you maintain to hold so dear. Freedom and Democracy.

I fear that the President is a little insecure and is looking for a “friendly crowd” in Halifax. I would have thought that the leader of the Free World would have shown a few more “Cojones” than that and addressed us directly, as did his counterpart from Mexico.

But, if you feel, Mr. President that you sincerely want to thank Canadians on the wharves in Halifax then you do that. And we as Canadians will gladly accept that thanks knowing in our hearts that if September 11 ever happened again we’d step up and welcome strangers into our homes in the name of humanity and making new friends. Our soldiers will continue to fight alonside Americans in the name of those same Canadian values of humanity and compassion.

That is after all, what friends do for each other.

Welcome to Canada.

UDPATE:

For those who say Canada did not support the US in Iraq. You’re right.

Militarily… but post-war, Canada has commited more money for reconstruction than any other non-Arab, or non-Coalition country. $US187 million.

UPDATE 2:

To see, hear, and read the Parliamentary addresses of all US Presidents since Roosevelt in 1943 check out this awesome CBC Archives website.

http://archives.cbc.ca/IDCC-1-73-676-3873/politics_economy/presidents/

I invite you to listen to Eisenhowers’ speech in 58, which is particularly focused on the cooperation and friendship during a time when Canada and America where at odds in some issues.

Frankness, in good spirit, is a measure of friendship

JFK in 1961.

Geography has made us neighbours; history has made us friends.

Reagan in 1981, quoting a Calgary writer 60 years before.

The difference between a friend and an aquaintance is that a friend helps where an aquaintance merely advises. We come here not to advise not to lecture we’re here to listen and to work with you. We’re here as friends, not as aquaintances.

6 thoughts on “President Bush avoids Carolyn Parrish?”

  1. Hmmm. I think these comments are beneath you. Chris, you don’t seem welcoming to me at all. You sound snide and snarky. You also seem insecure as a Canadian seeing insults where none is intended. Canadians need to get over that.

    As I’ve said before, it was nice that Canadians were sympathetic and helpful in the aftermath of 9/11. We were and are grateful for the outpouring of support received. However, it’s not hard to be kind to a people wounded and on their knees in grief. Once we recovered enough to stand up and fight, it was a different story. Americans have long memories too. NOt long ago, a poll of Canadian teenagers revealed that 40 % of them believe that the US is evil. EVIL. Where do you suppose the idea that we are evil came from?

    If you want to cut down on the polarization going on, you might want to ponder the fact that the stones being thrown are all AT the US, not coming FROM the US.

  2. Jane:

    You’re asking me to forgive (but not forget) and I am certainly willing to do that. That is what I said in my article. It seems to be the President who is unwilling to deal with the issues of Today.

    If our two states are friends, as they have been in the past, shouldn’t a simple speech to Parliament be a matter of course? Should it not be automatic?

    Instead the President goes for a photo-op at Halifax harbour?

    The message he’s sent to a large number of Canadians, including myself, is that he’s not ready to face the music.. he’s not yet ready to accept our friendship based on the fact that we can have legitimate disagreements and still be friends.

    I mean.. if he had planned a townhall or something with a bunch of Canadians, and cancelled because he knew the reaction he’d get… then of course that’s understandable. But the House of Commons is full of a bunch of stuffy MPs whos’ worst “heckle” is a non-discript (boaaahhhhh) from the Back Bench.

    He could have used that speech to rally Canadians to his aid. He could have asked us for his help himself… rather than through the back rooms. He could have challenged us to meet him in his quest to make the world a better place.

    Instead, he goes for the photo-op.

    Honestly… I think it’s a weak move by Bush. And very indicative of the state of relations between our two countries.

  3. And to address you insults… at the time… they were insults, whether they were intended or not. As I recall, the Administration later said that Canada was “implied” in the list of countries the President sounded off as he made his speech to Congress… but how hard is it to say the name?

    I’ll be listening to what President Bush has to say in Halifax.. it’ll be interesting.

    And I take issue with this:
    “Once we recovered enough to stand up and fight, it was a different story.”

    That is wholly untrue. We were there, and still are there in Afghanistan and in the wider war on terror. Our countries did not agree on Iraq being part of the GWT… thus we did not participate… but even then we provide more aid than any other non-CotW member.

    See the link in the updated article to see that Canada has committed $187 million to Iraq for reconstruction. More than any other non-Arab, non-Coalition country.

  4. The Afghan war was an easy choice for Canada…a popular cause even in France. Too bad Canadians haven’t walked with us as Australia has down this road. Australia sees her US relationship
    with the US in a much more realistic light – friend, ally and protector and has no sense of inferiority or envy.

    Bush is often witty. Just listen without the critical, hate him attitude.

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